A new study published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, conducted by researchers at Boston College, assessed teen drug use in states permitting medical marijuana. Researchers assessed surveys by youth around the country from 1999 to 2000. In states allowing for medical marijuana use, teens self-reported a reduction in drug use.
Interestingly enough, also contrary to legalization opponent’s belief that legalization would lead to increased marijuana use, the study seemed to determine the opposite.
According to Rebekah Levine Coley, the study’s author,
“We found that for every group of 100 adolescents, one fewer will be a current user of marijuana following the enactment of medical marijuana laws.”
Certain subgroups also showed a more prominent decline. For instance, blacks and Hispanics showed even less medical marijuana use. According to the researchers, this difference may be accounted for by demographics and economics.
“Some people have argued that decriminalizing or legalizing medical marijuana could increase cannabis use amongst young people, either by making it easier for them to access, or by making it seem less harmful. However, we saw the opposite effect.”
“We were not able to determine why this is, but other research has suggested that after the enactment of medical marijuana laws, youths’ perceptions of the potential harm of marijuana use actually increased. Alternatively, another theory is that as marijuana laws are becoming more lenient, parents may be increasing their supervision of their children, or changing how they talk to them about drug use.”
There also seems to be a difference in states that have only decriminalized possession of cannabis – teens in those states did not experience the same reduction in drug use.